The National Research Center on Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT) successfully competed for a series of federally funded grants (1990-2013) under the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Education Act. Our final studies focused on What Works in Gifted Education with the mathematics study at the University of Connecticut and the reading/language arts study at the University of Virginia. The respective research teams developed model-based curricula in mathematics for grade 3 students in general education classrooms and reading/language arts curricula for grade 3 students in gifted and talented programs reflecting the following curricular/instructional models: (a) Differentiation of Instruction Model (Carol Ann Tomlinson); (b) Depth and Complexity Model (Sandra N. Kaplan), and (c) Schoolwide Enrichment Model (Joseph S. Renzulli and Sally M. Reis). Multiple cohorts of students and their teachers participated in the two curricular studies and initial quantitative and qualitative results were shared with study participants and conference participants. We completed three additional projects: (a) explored the theory of the malleability of intelligence related to research by Dr. Carol Dweck, Stanford University, and others; (b) summarized the curricular and instructional practices in STEM high schools; and (c) analyzed the status of gifted education programming and services across the nation. An overview of these projects follows.
Malleable Minds Project
Dr. Carolyn M. Callahan worked with Dr. Rena Subotnik (Director of the Center for Psychology in the Schools and Education at the American Psychological Association), Dr. Ann Robinson (Past President of the National Association for Gifted Children), and Patricia Johnson (former Javits Program Director) to launch an initiative involving social and cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists. The goal of the project was to share emerging theories about student learning and talent development with researchers in gifted and talented education. The resulting book published by The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented entitled Malleable Minds: Translating Insights From Psychology and Neuroscience to Gifted Education (Subotnik, Robinson, Callahan, & Gubbins, 2012), presents the latest research, followed by how the research can inform theory and practices in gifted and talented education, and ending with illustrative cases that demonstrate the application of the research to teaching/learning environments. The book has been popular in psychology and educational psychology courses and seminars. The book may be ordered directly from The National Research on the Gifted and Talented at (Malleable Minds).
STEM Schools of Excellence
The University of Connecticut and University of Virginia completed the implementation of a study of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Schools of Excellence. The University of Connecticut created an extensive interactive matrix of STEM high schools around the country. From this matrix, 12 schools representing different service delivery models (e.g., school-within-a-school, residential school, magnet school, charter school, comprehensive high school) were selected for onsite observations, administrator interviews, teacher focus groups, and student focus groups. The purpose of the onsite visits was to obtain first-hand knowledge of effective curricular and instructional practices that may be unique to STEM schools. The information gleaned from a review of existing documents, websites, observations, interviews, and focus groups yielded multiple potential survey items that were organized and classified categorically to reflect the practices. Items became the basis for surveys for administrators and their teachers. Resulting data from the onsite data collection and surveys are the basis for multiple journal articles,(Bruce-Davis et al., 2014).
In addition, we created an eBook (Gubbins et al., 2013) on the status of STEM high schools in the United States which is available from STEM eBook. The quantitative and qualitative data provide guidance for future and current developers of STEM high schools.
Status of Gifted Education Programming
The United States Department of Education commissioned the University of Virginia to conduct a national survey focusing on the status of K-12 gifted programming opportunities across our nation. Data from elementary, middle, and high schools were used to develop portraits of the programming and services; to identify policy inputs (e.g., mandates, funding practices, teacher qualifications, program evaluation); and to provide accurate and comprehensive data to federal, state, and local policy makers as well as researchers and practitioners (Callahan, Moon, & Oh, 2013a, 2013b, 2013c). The reports are available from the National Association for Gifted Children’s website (www.nagc.org).
The research that we have conducted for over 2 decades required the cooperation and collaboration of administrators, teachers, and students from all over the country (Gubbins, Callahan, & Renzulli, 2014; Renzulli, Callahan, & Gubbins, 2014). We gratefully acknowledge the role that each person played in providing us with opportunities to collect extensive data on critical topics and report the findings to multiple audiences. Research teams associated with The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented continue to share their scholarly work at conferences as well as through books, book chapters, and articles. We hope you share our research with other interested educators involved with gifted and talented education by visiting our website for the latest information on meeting the needs of gifted and talented students.
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